(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
Tadej Pogačar has added to Dwars door Vlaanderen to his spring race schedule, to give him two tastes of racing on the cobbles in preparation for this year’s Tour de France stage on the pavé of Paris-Roubaix.
The UAE Team Emirates rider has already confirmed he will ride the Tour of Flanders on April 3 and according to L’Equipe, he will now travel to Belgium a few days earlier to also ride Dwars door Vlaanderen on March 30.
He is expected to carry out a careful reconnaissance ride of the Tour de France stage across the border between the two races.
Immediately after his taste of the cobbles, Pogačar will fly to the Basque Country to ride the six-day Itzulia Basque Country stage race, before later returning to Belgium for the Ardennes Classics.
“We are not used to welcoming a Tour winner to our race. It’s an honour for us,” Dwars door Vlaanderen race director Guy Delesie told L’Equipe, revealing Pogačar’s presence at the race.
Pogačar’s race trip to Flanders is centred around gaining experience of racing on cobbles ahead of the Tour de France.
However, he is keen to try his hand at more Classics racing after winning Il Lombardia and intends to ride Milan-San Remo, the Tour of Flanders, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and Il Lombardia. In early January, Pogačar took part in a cyclo-cross race in Slovenian to refresh his bike skills. He was Slovenian national cyclo-cross champion in 2018.
“It’s a new challenge for me and for sure it will help for the Tour de France and the cobbles,” Pogačar said recently.
“To get the idea of the roads and the cobbles. You can do the recon after the race and the experience that comes with it.”
Pogačar is expected to race in Flanders alongside UAE Team Emirates’ Classics contenders Matteo Trentin, Fernando Gaviria, Marc Hirschi and Pascal Ackermann.
Stage 5 of the Tour de France starts in Lille and includes 11 cobbled sectors on the way to the famous mining town of Arenberg Porte du Hainaut. There is no Trouée d’Arenberg on the route but five of the sectors are often used in Paris-Roubaix. Whatever the weather, the cobbles will pose a tough challenge for the peloton in July and perhaps spark significant timer losses overall.
The 2010’s trip to Arenberg saw Lance Armstrong and Ivan Basso shed minutes as Fränk Schleck crashed out, while in 2014’s wet stage defending champion Chris Froome crashed out before the cobbles as Alberto Contador and Alejandro Valverde lost significant time to eventual winner Vincenzo Nibali.
Dwars door Vlaanderen is considered a mini Tour of Flanders because it is packed with the characteristic Flemish cobbled climbs and sections of cobbles. Dylan Van Baarle won the race in 2021 and two extra sections of cobbles have been added to the 2022 route.
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